Sunday, December 30, 2018

Top 21 Albums of 2018

Here are the best 21 LP's of 2018. Why such an odd number? Well, initially, I thought I had picked 20 and put them in a playlist but it was 21 so that's what we are going with. Honestly, I didn't want to screw over Bahamas and just drop him. His record is just that good. So, 21 it is!!

I should also point out that this list contains quite a bit of Brit rockers (14 in total). While it's true that I am partial to bands from the British Isles, I believe that it's a statement of fact (not opinion) that they are making the best music by all the important measures year in and year out.

So, without further fanfare, here is my list for 2018.

21. Earthtones by Bahamas

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Bahamas is cool and he's from Canada so that makes him twice as awesome. This LP was one of the first volleys of 2018 and it was a big part of my soundtrack this year. Soft rock returns!

20. Twentytwo in Blue by Sunflower Bean

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The sophomore effort from this Brooklyn trio was stellar. Multiple music landscapes play out across the eleven tracks on the album and I pretty much heart every one. "I Was A Fool" is the Best Track of 2018.

19. 44/876 by Sting and Shaggy

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Sting has gotten to the point in his career where he needs a foil to balance him out and prevent him from whirring into pretentious nonsense. He found just that in Jamaica's own Shaggy. What a fab record this is and it reminds of Sting's glory days in the 80's. Great music, lyrics and a lot of fun.

18. Where Wildness Grows by Gengahr

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This year was the year I discovered Gengahr. As a massive Brit rocker, I was surprised that I hadn't heard about them sooner considering that the London band burst on the scene back in 2015. But, man am I into them now! This record is their second full length and it's a stunning display of catchy pop, guitar oriented music. A shining example of why Brit rock is top!

17. Trench by Twenty One Pilots

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My teenage kids got me into this Columbus, Ohio band a few years back and they continue to blow me away. This is their first full length record in three years and the duo continue to break into new musical horizons as well as exploring old ones. "Morph" reminds me of Steely Dan for Pete's sake! Lyrically, Tyler Joseph really taps into to millennial malaise.

16. Vessel of Love by Hollie Cook

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This West London darling has been making albums for the last decade. It reminds me a lot of why I loved albums in the 80's so much. She is Boy George's god daughter, after all, and the actual daughter of Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook. Her third full length cements her status as a god like genius of the 21st century.

15. Hive Mind by The Internet

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I remember when I first heard about The Internet. Some of my students were telling me I should check them out. I wondered if they were changing pronouns on the World Wide Web. They quickly corrected me by telling me The Internet were a band from L.A. fronted by the eternally interesting and gorgeously voiced Syd. In many ways, they have picked up where Sade left off. Great late night, lovey dovey chill out music.

14. Let's Go Sunshine by The Kooks

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A return to form for the lads from Brighton. This record's fifteen tracks almost make it seem like a double album. "Four Leaf Clover" is kiss your lover dreamy! The Kooks are a really great live band. Check them out as they come through your town.

13. Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino by Arctic Monkeys

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If Burt Bacharach and David Bowie produced a musical love child, this would be the album they would make. The Sheffield lads really outdid themselves with this album. Tales of love, heartache and longing...all from a hotel on the moon. Wow...

12. Always Ascending by Franz Ferdinand

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Glasgow's own Franz Ferdinand continue to prove why they are so fucking suave with their fifth full length. I had the pleasure of catching them this year in the Main Room. All of their records should be purchased immediately.

11. I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life by Tune Yards

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Merrill Garbus is this era's David Byrne. Truly, a New England treasure, her music forces me to expand my musical tastes into uncharted territories. There isn't a bad track on this record.

10. In Your Own Sweet Time by The Fratellis

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This band from Scotland is easily in my top 25 groups of all time. Who knew that drunken pub stories could be so eloquent? Jon's words on life, romance and love always hit me deeply. "Sugartown" is fucking mega.

9. Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life by The Wombats

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Liverpool's own Wombats made a statement with this album. They are going to fervently continue the "dudes with guitars from the UK" genre began in the noughties. Thank god...

8. Wildness by Snow Patrol

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Gary Lightbody and his crew drive dagger after dagger into my heart but in a good way. Does that make sense? I don't know and I don't really care as long as they continue to make music. This record is deeply personal and family themed. "Soon" makes me cry nearly every time I listen to it. Lost fathers...

7. Life by Culture Club

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Coming nearly two decades after their last album, Life is shovel to the head stunning in terms of musical growth. They've turned up the soul factor to 11! Boy George, older and more sultry, sounds ridiculously awesome. As a Gen Xer,  it's wonderful to hear this band from my generation still trailblazing and keeping the sound of the 80's alive for the 21st century.

6. For Now by DMA's

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Brit Pop will live on forever as long as DMA's are on the scene. Even though they hail from Sydney, they know this sound and do it quite well. I just wish they would break bigger here in the US. I had the fortune of seeing them live at small club and there is barely anyone there. They deserve the big crowds they get overseas. They are that fucking good!!

5. True Meanings by Paul Weller

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The Modfather continues to prove why he's a god like genius. This record seems like a companion piece to 22 Dreams in terms of acoustic pastorals. Yet it also contains layers of genres heretofore unexplored by Weller. He simply refuses to stop growing so his records are among the best of the last five decades.

4. Call The Comet by Johnny Marr

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Speaking of god like geniuses...Mr. Smiths came roaring back this year with this gem. Holy crap, is this guy pure fucking wonderful. He's already enshrined himself in rock history with The Smiths and now he keeps piling on the awesome with his solo career, now four albums in. Keep making records, Johnny. You are blowing us all away.

3. The Art of Pretending To Swim by Villagers

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Dublin has produced many a fine band over the years. Though this outfit has been making records for nearly a decade, I just discovered them this year with this album. Within one minute of the first track, I had decided I was all in and purchased all of the rest of their music (four LP's and 1 EP). Their music is good for just about any occasion...a romantic walk, quiet reflection, a stroll through a museum, a candlelight dinner or even a run on the treadmill. I've done them all and Villagers are the perfect soundtrack.

2. Course of the Satellites by The Vryll Society

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This Liverpool band nearly made the top spot this year but I had to go with one that sunk in just a little deeper. Psychedelic pop is in good hands with these lads. Not only can I hear their music but I can also see it and taste it. It makes me float! What a fantastic first release and great start to their career.

1. Fight the Good Fight by The Interrupters

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Aimee Allen decided that being a pop music star wasn't good enough. So, she hooked up with the Biovona brothers and formed a ska punk band. Their third full length dropped this year and it's my pick for Album of the Year. It's got 12 tracks (the perfect number for an album), it simply refuses to allow you to sit still upon listening-you must dance, it has wicked pop hooks that stick in your ear forever, and it makes you want scream at the top of your lungs, "LIFE IS FUCKING AWESOME!!"

Congrats to all the bands on this list and thank you for making such amazing music!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Track #1 of 2018: I Was A Fool By Sunflower Bean

The best track of 2018 goes to Brooklyn's own Sunflower Bean with their amazing and wistful track, "I Was A Fool." This song took me over completely when it came out last March on their second full length, Twentytwo in Blue. Waves of nostalgia wash over me every time I listen to it. Julia, Jacob and Nick do an amazing job of capturing that mid-70's, Dreams by Fleetwood Mac vibe.

This song is perfect for staring out across a bar and wondering what happened to that one...

Friday, December 28, 2018

Track #2 of 2018: Title Holder by The Interrupters

The future of ska music is in good hands with LA's own The Interrupters. Their third full length, Fight The Good Fight, dropped this year and it's their best album yet. The opening track will go down in history as one of the best "pump up" jams. It's the second best song of the year.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Track #3 of 2018: Tape Deck Sick by DMA's

Sydney's own DMA's are keeping the Brit Rock torch glowing with their second full length, For Now. The track "Tape Deck Sick" really stood out for me from this release. I especially love the last minute of the song where it sounds just like an old cassette tape!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Track #4 of 2018: Glows and Spheres by The Vryll Society

I'm always warmed in the heart when a new band comes out of Liverpool. When they are a psychedelic pop band, it's even better. The Vryll Society have completely blown me away with their debut, The Course of the Satellites. In fact, it's the 2nd best album of 2018 (more on that list later this week) yet sounds like it came out in 1967.

Here's the best track but honestly, they are all great.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Track #5 of 2018: Angel by Peace

I wish that Worcester's Peace would break really big in the US. They such a mega band. They kinda had that Catfish and the Bottlemen sound before Catfish did. Or at least they came up together and then Catfish went on to achieve a fairly higher following.

Peace released their third full length this year called Kindness is the New Rock and Roll. It's fantastic and here is the best track...perfect for Christmas night!

Track #6 of 2018: The Soul Searchers by Paul Weller

Paul Weller continues to prove why he is the Modfather with this latest effort, True Meanings. All 14 tracks on the record are quite beautiful but the opening track is the my favorite.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Track #7 of 2018: Sweet Savior by Villagers

2018 saw me discover a wonderful new band, Dublin's own Villagers. I found it strange that I had never heard of them considering they have been around for a decade but cool bands fall through the cracks sometimes with so much music out there now. Anyway, I'm happy I know about them now!

Here is a track from their latest full length, The Art of Pretending to Swim. It's my #7!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Track #8 of 2018: Rise by Johnny Marr

Johnny Marr continued to cement his god like genius status with this year's Call the Comet. Here's the opening track in all is glory and triumph!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Track #9 of 2018: Soon by Snow Patrol

Dundee's own Snow Patrol are one of my favorite bands of all time. They've been a staple in my music world for over 15 years. Their latest full length, Wildness, is a return to form in many ways.

Here's the best track from the record...a great autumn song, btw...

Friday, December 21, 2018

Track #10 of 2018: Dip You In Honey by The Wombats

It's the Wombats, la'!

Yes, that's right. We have Liverpool's own for our first track in the top 10. What a fab record they put out this year with Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life. I'd like to dip the whole record in honey!!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Track #11 of 2018: I'll Be Waiting by Gengahr

Stoke's own Gengahr released their sophomore effort this year and it's a dandy! Where Wildness Grows is top notch from start to finish in all of it's dream pop and psychedelic wonder.

Here's the best track....

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Track #12 of 2018: Stay The Night by The Internet

I love the late night, chill out vibe. You've just gotten back from the pub or club and perhaps you are with a loved one. Time for some music and...who know? A great band to put on whatever device you own is The Internet.

Here is a track from their fourth full length that perfectly fits the bill!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Track #13 of 2018: Simple Song by Amber Arcades

I love a good Burt Bachrach-y trumpet. I also love sultry female singers that seem to spring from the early 60's and Kennedy Era Cool. So, it's only natural that I heart Utrecht's own Amber Arcades. Her second full length, European Heartbreak, is out from Heavenly Records and the track "Simple Song" is #13 on my list for the year.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Track #14 of 2018: Turn It Around by Hollie Cook

Hollie Cook's "Turn it Around" was my song of the summer this year so it's only fitting that it should be included in my top track of the year. This West London's third full length (Vessel of Love) charmed the heck out of me for the entire year as it was release on January 25.

Here's my favorite track...


Sunday, December 16, 2018

Track #15 of 2018: TSLAMP by MGMT

Middletown, Connecticut isn't really know for pop groups. But man oh man did they produce a 400 lb gorilla with MGMT. Now on their fourth full length (Little Dark Age), Andrew and Ben continue to dazzle with sonic sunflowers of love, hope and dreams.

Here's the #15 track of the year...

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Track #16 of 2018: Dare by Sofi Tukker

New York dynamic duo Sofi Tukker create some truly magical soundscapes. Their first full length, Treehouse, was released this year with the track from the iPhone commercial, "Best Friend." The best track from the record is "The Dare" featured below and it's my #16 of 2018.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Track #17 of 2018: Sugartown by the Fratellis

I've been a fan of Glasgow's Fratellis since their first EP. They have a great range of music from serious and contemplative ballads to raucous pub romps. Their latest effort, In Your Own Sweet Time, contains this amazing track.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Track #18 of 2018: Eclipse by Wooden Shjips

San Francisco's own Wooden Shjips are a truly wondrous band. They've made five albums and they are all bloody mags! Their most recent effort, V, has a great track on it called "Eclipse." It makes me so happy that psychedelic rock is alive and well in 2018!


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Track #19 of 2018: No Wrong by Bahamas

Ontario's own Bahamas (Afie Jurvanen) is a true jewel of the north. His latest effort, Earthtones, brings me back to those wonderful 1970's dripped days of soft rock and Chevy vans. Here is the best track which is also #19 on my list for the year....

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Track #20 of 2018: God and Love by Culture Club

I'm still in a state of shock over the new Culture Club record. Life is a stunning achievement and puts the band firmly in the icon class of pop music. The opening track sets the tone and it's my #20 track of 2018.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Track #21 of 2018: Subaru Nights by Insecure Men

I'm a very big fan of Ben Romans-Hopcraft. His band Childhood is completely fucking mega. He also has a side project called Insecure Men with Saul Adamczewski from Fat White Family. Their self titled lounge exploration has been in constant rotation on my various devices. Here's my favorite track....


Sunday, December 9, 2018

Track #22 of 2018: Call If You Need Me by Vance Joy

Melbourne's own Vance Joy gets the nod for the 22nd finest track of 2018. I love its pleading...felt this way many times...


Saturday, December 8, 2018

Track #23 of 2018: Parking Lot Piroutte by Amanda Shires

Lone Star treasure Amanda Shires released a totally fab full length this year called To The Sunset. It's a magnificent exploration of the soul of American country. Here's my favorite track...

Friday, December 7, 2018

Track #24 of 2018: Allocate by Damien Jurado

Seattle's own Damien Jurado has been a gem from the Northwest for the better part of two decades. His latest effort, The Horizon Just Laughed, is magnificent. The opening track has been brought my mind on many wonderful journeys. Here it is...

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Track #25 of 2018: Bone Dry by The Eels

This slinky little number from Los Feliz, California's The Eels has been in heavy rotation all year on my various music listening devices (there are so many now!). They've been making music for more than two decades and their quality has not diminished.


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Track #26 of 2018: Colonizer by Tune-Yards

Merrill Garbus is a genius. The New England native has a mighty fine thing going with her group, Tune-Yards. Their fourth full length, I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life, dropped this year and I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

Here is a live performance of my favorite track.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Track #27 of 2018: Love Like Waves by Friendly Fires

The amount of material released by St. Albans' Friendly Fires these last few years has been fairly sparse. They haven't released a full length since 2011! The singles that have come out in very small drips have been solid but it's just not enough. I require more from Ed and the lads.

Thankfully, 2018 has seen two new singles, "Love Like Waves" and "Heaven Let Me In." It's the former that ranks 27 on my list this year. It's classic Fires...perfect for the club scene and that special guy or girl. Dance the night away, my friends!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Track #28 of 2018: Baby I Love You by Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams is my favorite US artist. I make no bones about it. He's an absolute crazy genius who digs very, very deeply in my heart. He is usually pretty prolific but 2018 has been kinda quiet. He's only got one track out but it's a corker.

It makes me feel like I should be walking down a boardwalk holding hands with a loved one...

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Track #29 of 2018: Morph by Twenty One Pilots

I will be eternally grateful to my daughter for turning me on to Columbus, Ohio's own Twenty One Pilots. What a stunning band that manages to completely cover just about every kind of musical genre. Their latest effort, Trench, delivers massively.

The track "Morph" really caught my attention and reminded me of late era Steely Dan, believe it or not.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Track #30 of 2018: Cutting Stone by The Decemberists

Here is track number 30 of 2018., "Cutting Stone" by the Decemberists. Sure, it sounds like a tune that Renaissance Festival goers would twirl around to but I like it anyway. The lads from Portland did a fine job with this one!